Uh, dude, that’s a vegetable cleaver. An arts & crafts project.

We find our plucky Biggles hard at work, doing what he does to pay the bills. When Creepy E walks in and tosses this down on his desk. A Yan Can Cook vegetable cleaver with a nasty notch taken out of it. He laughs and says that I can have it, it’s mine. I’m turning this thing over and over thinking, “What the hell?”
It turns out, he thinks he was cutting meat with it and got to the bone and I finished the sentance with, “and you wrenched it to the side to unembed it from the bone, didn’t you?” PING !!!

I played with it for a while, laid it down. Played with it, laid it down. It pained me to have to toss it to the recycle bin, even if it is an inexpensive knife. It’d be wasteful and there’s enough of that going on in this world already. There’s GOT to be something that I can do!
Then it came to me, I’m at work, busy and the phones are ringing like mad. This is clearly a wonderful time for? ARTS & CRAFTS !!!
Since I work in a factory, we’ve got a shop with some large, noisy and dangerous tools available. A Table saw, band saws, a lathe, a few grinders and some sanding machines. There are a bunch of other ones, but there’s no point in a damned inventory here. I was set.
My first stop was at the grinding wheel. I really don’t know much about working with wood or metal, but I do know that if you heat metal too hot, it gets brittle and won’t be anywhere near good enough for a knife. So, you gotta take off a little at a time and then submerge the piece in water. Easy enough, but the grinder was really spinning too fast. So, I just pulsed the power on and off and took my time with it. Oddly enough, it didn’t take more than 10 minutes to get it down. That’s when Meathead walked in and wanted to see what I was up to. He’s wily in the ways of art (got a degree from some high fallootin’ college) and offered to help. Besides, he’s not afraid to use the table saw, that’s a plus.

He started with a few files and the knife wedged in a vice, but it was slow going, too slow. We needed to step up the pace so we didn’t get too bored and drop the project. This happens frequently, very frequently.

On went the huge belt sander and the steel just melted away, perfection. Remember, dip the steel in water! A cool blade is a happy blade. Meathead got it down in another 10 minutes or so, I took pictures. Everything came out fine, didn’t ruin the steel and it looked very knife-like.
At this point we’d taken down the Asian style edge, only sharpened on one side. Now it was to be a Western style blade, where the edge would be in the shape of a V. It took me quite some time before I was able to cut an onion, just barely. I lost interest and figured I’d drop it off at Eric’s stall at the Berkeley Farmer’s Market for the finishing touches. I did, and here is the finished product!

This cleaver now slices a tomato with just the weight and draw of the knife, sluup! I thought it was pretty cool not to toss the thing away and make it useful for another however many years. I gave it back to Creepy E and mentioned he may want to NOT use it for bones again, eh?

16 thoughts on “Uh, dude, that’s a vegetable cleaver. An arts & crafts project.

  1. OMG, that is just too cool. You’ve become a knife guy. (There must be a word for it, but words fail me. Cranky has a Randall knife, BTW, but it’s a hunting knife.) How did you (or maybe it was Eric) achieve the curve?
    Plus — you gave it back?? After all that??
    I love this story.

  2. Hey Cookie,
    Yeah, gave it back. I hadn’t considered it and the way E gave it to me, I wasn’t convinced he wanted it back anyway. It wasn’t some expensive Japanese blade er nuttin’ and didn’t seem to hold any centimental value. However, after finishing up the completed product image, on my way back in to the building, I handed it back and said This is For You. He got a kick out of it.
    The curved edge was easy and something I wasn’t expecting. Meathead just rocked it back and forth on the final belt sander thingy. It’s pretty darned easy. Just have to pay close attention so you don’t lose a finger.

  3. Tools and skills together is a powerful combination. I’ve been doing home owner stuff around here and am lacking in both departments.

  4. Very cool. I love cleavers. I admit, it would have been hard for me to give it back. Biggles, you’re a good person.

  5. Jeez you guys, I didn’t expect a Mawkish Inquisition. Thank you though, it was a lot of fun.
    Oh, and just so you know? Do not injur yourself on the upper portion of your paw. It’s exactly where the cuf of your jacket rubs and when you put your pocket in to your jeans, it pulls the bandaid and makes everything hurt again! OUCH !!! Those Hemmer knives are wily.

  6. Where were you when my father in law did that to my cleaver!
    Very Clever.
    I use the cheap chinatown cleavers that cost like 15 bucks each. I use it more than any other knife, actually. Even my nice wustof chef’s knife. I just love those cheap cleavers. I have two, and I use whichever is sharper, until I have to get off my lazy ass and sharpen them both.
    Which I did on NYE by the way. And promptly sliced off the end of my thumb, too. Had to go to the emergency room. A nice little oval off the tip — gone! Boy did that sucker bleed! Appetizing, huh?

  7. Hey Dr. Jones,
    Really? So, would a block of aluminum be good? Or should I use some stock angles, rods and assorted pieces?
    Everyone is really excited to see exactly what’ll happen.

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    All NEW! Improved! Now with great flavor of FISH! It’s the Posts of the Week. We took a few weeks off there, but we’re back in 2006 with a vengence and the fury of a thousand white hot suns. Who is the object of our attention this week? Well, glad you…

  9. Biggles, don’t forget the pile of magnesium shavings and big bucket of water for after the mag gets going. I’m not only impressed but jealous as well — I want a machine shop! I once tried to get a metal lathe as part of a house deal. Power tools good. *twitch*

  10. Do NOT try to put out a Magnesium fire with water. I have a friend whose family owns a magnesium stamping plant (they make car dashboards since magnesium is great at absorbing energy from a crash, so the passengers don’t have to).
    They had a fire in the mid-80s at their plant and the local fire department sprayed water on it. Kaboom! Fire flares up, out of control and the plant burned to the ground.
    See also http://www.inchem.org/documents/icsc/icsc/eics0701.htm
    Note in the Notes: Magnesium burns with an intense flame. Avoid direct viewing of magnesium fires. Reacts violently with fire extinguishing agents such as water, powder, carbon dioxide and halons.

  11. Geez Barrett! It’s no fun if you tell them.
    I have visions of Biggles getting impatent with a wood-fired and fixing it with magnesium shavings and a spray bottle of water. With full knowledge of the intended effect. I’m betting Biggles figured out all sorts of ways to make things a bit more fireworks-like as a kid. *grin*